12/29/2005 12:00AM

'Navesink' fit for marathon


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - As the regular rider of Coyote Lakes, Mike Luzzi knows a thing or two about winning the Gallant Fox Handicap. Luzzi was aboard for two of Coyote Lakes's three victories in this 1 5/8-mile marathon event.

In Saturday's 67th renewal of the Gallant Fox, Luzzi will be aboard probable favorite Navesink River, who takes on eight rivals in the $75,000 race run over the inner track.

On Dec. 7, Luzzi guided Navesink River to a 5 1/2-length victory in the Coyote Lakes Stakes, a 1 5/8-mile prep for the Gallant Fox. Luzzi noted that Navesink River didn't break very well and was farther back than he had envisioned early. But when it came time to make his run down the backside the second time, Navesink River responded and galloped to the open-length score.

"He acted up right before the start and he didn't come away cleanly," Luzzi said. "I thought I'd be somewhat closer, but it didn't matter."

In comparing Navesink River to Coyote Lakes, Luzzi said that Coyote Lakes was the type of horse "you always had to peck at. This horse is a little more handier."

, the 117-pound highweight, breaks from post 5.

Loving won the 2003 Gallant Fox and comes off a second-place finish in the Coyote Lakes. In that race, Loving made a strong middle move along the rail down the backside and faltered in the final furlong. Loving is one of three Gallant Fox starters sent out by trainer Dominick Schettino.

Schettino also entered , who is still eligible for entry-level allowance conditions, and Chilly Rooster, winless in 16 starts since scoring an upset the Fort Marcy Handicap on turf in April 2004.

The two most intriguing horses in the field are . We Can Seek, a Chilean-bred, makes his third start since coming to trainer Mark Hennig's barn in the summer. We Can Seek won two graded events at 1 3/8 miles.

"He looks like the further he goes the better he gets," said assistant trainer Seth Gregory.

India Halo is coming off a victory in the Ladies Handicap at 1 1/4 miles, and trainer Jimmy Ferraro is confident she will want to run farther.

El Provinciano, Potri Cacho, and Decourcey complete the field.